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OCS Leadership

Hubert Hamer
REE, Acting Deputy Under Secretary
USDA, Acting Chief Scientist

Hubert Hamer is the Acting Deputy Under Secretary for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Research, Education, and Economics mission area and Acting USDA Chief Scientist. Hubert has served as NASS Administrator since 2016. He brings extensive experience in all aspects of the agency’s work. Before becoming administrator, he served as director of the Statistics Division, which produces and releases more than 400 national statistical reports each year covering the agency’s crops, livestock, economic, demographic, environmental, and census programs. He also served as executive director of the NASS Agricultural Statistics Board (ASB) and executive director of the Advisory Committee on Agriculture Statistics.

From 2010 until he became head of the Statistics Division, Hamer was chair of the Agricultural Statistics Board. As ASB chair, he led the preparation and dissemination of market-sensitive reports compiled and issued under special security conditions known as Lockup. He was also responsible for promotion and outreach of the NASS mission to all stakeholders. From May 2000 until April 2010, Hamer served as associate deputy administrator for field operations, overseeing 24 state field offices as well as the Training and Career Development Office.

Since joining NASS, Hamer has served in a number of capacities in Washington, D.C. as well as the Louisiana, Illinois, and Missouri field offices. While directing the Missouri office, he completed USDA’s Senior Executive Candidate Development Program and was appointed to the Senior Executive Service in 2000. Hamer completed the program for Senior Managers in Government at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government in 2004 and completed the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Executive Potential Program in 1994. As part of the OPM program, he served as a fellow with the Senate Budget Committee and worked on the staff of the Secretary of Agriculture.

Hamer was born on a small livestock and row crop farm in Benton County, Mississippi, and later continued his development in Grand Junction, Tennessee. He is a graduate of Tennessee State University.

Dionne Toombs
OCS, Director

Dr. Dionne Toombs is the Director for the Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS). In this role, she provides leadership on a wide range of issues affecting science programs and science policy in agricultural research, education, and economics. She comes to OCS from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) where she was Director of the Division of Nutrition, leading a collaboration of nutrition science leaders across the Department. Under her leadership, the Division provided direction in science policy and program development to ensure the safety of America’s food supply and the availability of healthy food to its citizens.

She served as National Program Leader for NIFA’s Agriculture Food and Research Initiative (AFRI), leading large competitive grant programs to fund research into nutrition, food science and technology, and food safety.

Dr. Toombs received her Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences from Howard University. She earned her Master of Science degree from Alabama A & M University and her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Bethune-Cookman University.

Richard Derksen
OCS, Deputy Director

Richard (Rich) Derksen is the Deputy Director of the Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS). In this role, he provides direction and leadership on a wide range of issues affecting programs in agricultural research, education, and economics. Derksen manages review and product activity, tracks metrics, output, and impacts, and represents OCS on various Federal working groups and committees.

Derksen has over 25 years of direct research experience. He is an internationally recognized expert in crop production and protection engineering. At Cornell University, he held a joint research and extension appointment related to crop protection. In 1996, Derksen joined the Agricultural Research Service as a research scientist with a focus on providing engineering solutions to crop production and protection issues. He has authored over 200 publications, including 78 peer-reviewed journal manuscripts and given numerous invited presentations at national and international scientific meetings. Derksen received his Master of Science and Ph.D. degrees in Agricultural Engineering from the University of Illinois.